Faces of the Future

1 Timothy 4:12 “Do not be ashamed because you are young.”

The following is written by Cassandra Tartter, IGNITE alumni & Costa Rica overseer

In the past year, God has been doing an incredible thing in raising up the youth of Calvary Chapel, Villarreal, Costa Rica. You might ask, “What does that have to do with Potter’s Field Ministries? The answer is, “So, so, much.” As God continued to work in Villarreal, the PFK program began to grow, and started to look like complete insanity with 40 kids and only three leaders all trying to cook, teach, play, and keep control. We were desperately asking Jesus to raise people up, to keep up with His growth. We knew that our God would be faithful to answer our prayer, because He wants to reach the children here and show them His love. But, the way in which He answered our prayer, was not at all what we were expecting.

In July of 2015, we held a Vacation Bible School (VBS) with over 150 children. We had announced to the adults many times the opportunity to come alongside of us and the mission team to make this VBS possible. We happened to randomly announce it to our Youth Group, only one time, a week before the VBS took place. To our surprise, Monday came and there were about 10 youth at our preparation meeting, wanting to serve. We were overjoyed! But, God surprised us even more when they came up to us after VBS and asked if they could became part of Potter’s Field Kids (PFK), because they had loved serving in the VBS. God had answered our prayer.

We now have seven youth that are committed to being part of PFK. Four out of those seven are PFK graduates, and actually some of the first children ever enrolled in PFK Costa Rica. We call them our Bible Club Interns.

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We meet each Monday afternoon for training in different areas of ministry such as puppets, dramas, reading/teaching the word, team building, and more. As they continue to serve Jesus, we can see them being challenged both as individuals and as a team. It is amazing to watch them grow, little by little, as God transforms them. We can see them beginning to understand the true purpose of ministry: love. Without love, everything we do is in vain. With that, we are watching as they begin to open themselves up more and more to the children. They are building relationships with the kids, and as the children grow to love them, they begin to love the children.

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Not only is God using the youth here in the church to accomplish His mission and to grow them into His disciples, but He is also using them in their high school. As their friends begin to invite them to parties or to hang out, their answer is always, “Sorry, I have to go to church.” When they are asked, “What is up with you and that church? It is like you live there!” their answer is the same, “Well, it is where I want to be, I love it there.” Being involved in ministry has opened a door for them to also witness to their friends about how God is changing their lives. How great is our God?

As they continue to grow, they are slowly being trained up for specific positions within the ministry (some have already completely been given a specific role). Our cook is 17-year-old Denis. The girls in charge of attendance and being trained in support letters are 14-year-old Belen and 18-year-old Katherine. 15-year-old Nazareth is in charge of crafts. Last, but not least, games are run by 14-year-old Sofia and 11-year-old Rebecca. Ivan, 17 years old, is our trusty floater and supports us wherever we need him.

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God is raising up the youth to work in His ministry and to be His disciples. He is so faithful, no matter how little we have to offer. All He desires is that we give Him our all, just like the little boy who only had two fish and five loaves when there were 5,000 people (just counting men) to feed. Logically, God could do nothing with what the boy had to offer. Yet, in faith, the boy offered Jesus all that He had, and Jesus multiplied it beyond what anyone thought possible.

It is amazing to watch as God does the same things with these seven young adults. Many people said they had nothing to offer because they were too young and inexperienced. However, God is growing this ministry in Costa Rica, making it possible through the youth, as they offer all they have to Jesus. Our God is truly great.

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far with they go among so many?” – John 6:9 “They all ate and were satisfied.” – Mark 6:42

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A Sign of Hope

The Cambodian people are a beautiful people known for their smiles. Their smiles are contagious. They love to play games, tell stories, sing, dance, and laugh. However, I have to come to learn that there is pain, hurt, and devastation behind their smiles, and underneath their laughter. Less then 40 years ago one third of the population was killed during what is called the “Khmer Rouge” from 1974 to 1979.

Everyone was forced out of the capital city, Phnom Penh, into the provinces to work as slave farmers. The educated were killed off. Family units were disrupted. Religion almost annihilated. Less then 200 Christians remained in Cambodia by the end of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Cambodia has been rebuilding itself as a nation trying to recover from the atrocity that affected every sector of Cambodian society. Deep darkness only makes light brighter. The light of hope has been brought to Cambodia, and the church has grown from 200 people to about 350,000 as of 2016, but that is still only 3% of the Cambodian population. Cambodia is considered an unreached country. The vast majority of Cambodians don’t even know the name of Jesus. They don’t know the hope they have for this present life and for the life to come in eternity.

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Potter’s Field Ministries partners with eight different village churches spread across four different provinces in Cambodia to help play a part in transforming these precious little lives forever by providing physical needs to show the true spiritual need for Jesus that they may become disciples of Christ and mighty soldiers for the Kingdom. When I travel to our Cambodian Potter’s Field Kids village locations, I love seeing children wear their PFK shirts walking down the street, riding their bikes, in their homes, at their school, and doing their chores. When I see children in the community wearing the PFK shirts it brings a smile to my face, tears to my eyes, and I am overcome with joy, because it represents hope to me.

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The stories are hard to hear. The living conditions are heard to see. The devastation is hard to comprehend. But, when I see the children in the community wearing the PFK shirts I know they have been touched with hope. No matter how dark their life situation may be I know light has been brought into that darkness. I know that they are getting a daily meal. I know that they are receiving education. Most importantly, I know they are hearing the name of Jesus.

Seeing the children wearing the PFK shirts in the community is a tangible representation that they have been touched with the hope of the Gospel in seemingly hopeless situations for this present life and for the life to come in eternity. Please continue to pray with me that God’s Kingdom would be in Cambodia as it is in heaven!

‘Til the whole world hears!

-Anna Scott, Cambodia overseer

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A Family of Mission

There is something great to be said about the people we come across in our lives who have found what they are good at. They know where they fit, and are living out their God-given callings. However, there is something else entirely, something special, to say about those individuals who have not only found their callings, but are flourishing in them. Meet Geoff and Linda Simpson.

Geoff, Linda and their two children, Christian and Faith, have been living in Kenya for about three and a half years and have overseen the Potter’s Field program and interns for the majority of that time. They originally met Pastor Craig Linquist of Calvary Chapel Entebbe and long time friend and staff member with PFM, Pastor Jim Randall at a missions conference. From there they were connected with PFM headquarters and off to Kenya it was!

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Christian and Faith with some of the kids in PFK Kenya

With a focus on the Gospel first and education second, the Simpson family has made an incredible impact on the local community of Ongata Rongai. Arriving three and a half years ago and quickly assuming the roles of ministry overseers as well as becoming the host family to our IGNITE Interns, their hearts for Jesus and for the academic lives of the local children became quickly evident. Through a series of random, divine meetings, Geoff and Linda have been able to establish relationships with public and private schools, as well as children homes and orphanages around the local Rift Valley region. However, one of the greatest steps of faith that they have had to take was when the Lord began to impress upon them the desire to start a Primary (Elementary) school of their own.

In the midst of seemingly endless ministry opportunities, Geoff and Linda began to diligently pray about adding even more to their already busy lives with the possible addition of a Potter’s Field school starting with Kindergarten through second grade. Through prayer and conversations with the leadership of Potter’s Field, Potter’s Field Christian Academy was officially opened for classes in January of 2015. Last year, about 60 children were given the opportunity to learn in a Gospel-centered and highly advanced setting. This year, we added a Third Grade class and have about 80 students total. These 80 children are given daily opportunities to grow spiritually and academically at an extremely high level, a chance that had previously been available only to those with enough money to afford a private school education. Lives are absolutely being changed forever.

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Linda praying with some of the children

Geoff, Linda, Christian and Faith are a family of mission. They do not waiver and they do not compromise in their pursuit of the Lord’s glory here in Kenya. Through constant prayers and diligence in their relationships, numerous children, their families, and the community have experienced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have not only heard the Gospel, but have seen it lived out in sacrificial living.

Throughout all of Potter’s Field Ministries Acts 20:24 is highly quoted and often used to encourage those serving and living Gospel-centered lives. It reads, “But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel to the grace of God.”

It is a joy to watch this family actively live out the message of this verse.

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Geoff playing guitar and singing worship

Accessing Hearts through Academics

Ministry begins with relationships. That is how the public school ministry in Antigua, Guatemala started. In January 2014, Potter’s Field Ministries (PFM) hosted a medical outreach in Antigua. Many people came, were seen by the doctors, and were ministered to by all of the volunteers. One of the locals who came just so happened to be the director of 150+ schools in Antigua. They told us they had  just lost their funding for English in the public school system. This was detrimental, because English provides opportunities for children to have a brighter future. We only had one question, “Can we use the Bible as the curriculum?” The response, “We don’t mind what you use!” Building a relationship with the board of directors led to PFM teaching ESL (English as Second Language) in one public school. But that soon grew.

The following is written by Quincey McCook, IGNITE alumni and current IGNITE 2.0/staff serving with us in Guatemala. 

I was an intern in IGNITE Class 6 and was stationed in Guatemala for my six months of field time. My team and I began going to one school every Friday. To be honest, I was scared to death. I thought, “I’m not a teacher! I can’t speak Spanish! What am I doing?” But in the back of my mind, I knew that every Friday was a gift from God. It was an opportunity to reach these kids and to show them God’s love. About two months into my field time, my team was pulled into a meeting and were told we were going to be teaching in three more schools! My heart dropped. How am I supposed to do this? This is too much for me! God spoke to me, “You are not going to do it. I am. Rely on me and my strength.”

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It was a little scary going into those three new schools for the first week. I will never forget when we went to the biggest school of the week with around 500 kids. We were all going to take on five classes of our own in just one morning. We arrived at the school and my leader said, “Well, who is taking the first class?” Somehow I volunteered to do it. It was a first grade class of about 30 six-year-olds, and when they saw me through the window they started cheering. “Ingles!!!!!” they all yelled, and whether I was ready or not, I realized I was the teacher!

God grew me so much in that time. He used my team to reach over 1,000 kids a week. It was insane! Such a huge blessing. When my field time came to an end I said goodbye to my students, not knowing if I would ever see them again. I knew that they would continue to have English class when school started up again. Their school year is from January to October. The ministry reminds me that no one is irreplaceable, and I knew that the IGNITE Class 7 interns would take over  when the school year started again.

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God still had so much to do in the schools! I was praying with all of my students before class started and teaching memory verses every quarter, but God was still laying it on my heart to do even more. How else could the ministry get His word in these public schools? As God was tugging at my heart, the doors opened up for me to come back and be a part of the ministry again! After my IGNITE time ended, I returned to Guatemala in January of 2015 to continue serving with PFM. My role was to help the interns who were taking over the old schools and to begin teaching in three new schools with my teammate Lydia who also returned post-IGNITE. We were in charge of writing the curriculum, and we added a Bible lesson in with every English lesson! So, there were four interns from IGNITE Class 7 teaching our old students, and Lydia and I started in three new schools with 800+ new students.

After another year of teaching, God again opened up the doors for me to come back. I returned at the end of December 2015 to start up again with the schools in January 2016.

It has been two years since we started teaching in the schools. In the beginning it was just an open door that we all walked through by faith; we didn’t know what we were doing, none of us were teachers, and some of us barely spoke the language, but none of that mattered. We had no idea what God was going to do when we stepped into the school for the first time.

Now, two years later, we have a bus ministry and we go to all the schools and bring hundreds of kids to Potter’s Field Kids club where they are shown the love of Christ, are given a free meal, and most importantly hear the Word of God.  We are currently in seven different public schools teaching 1,900 kids each week. The board of directors offered us 100 schools if we only had the hands and feet. The Lord is giving us so many opportunities to reach these lost children. Every day we teach, the Lord gives us the words to share the Bible lessons. He gives us opportunities to pray for the students. We have been able to meet their parents and build their trust. We have seen kids from the schools start to attend church and have a relationship with the Living God.

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In all this, a verse keeps coming to mind:

“Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine—to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!”

Ephesians 3:20-21

God always goes above and beyond what we could ever think up. We know the Lord is going to use the ministry in the schools beyond what we could ever imagine. To Him be the glory!

’Til the Whole World Hears!

Hands of Hope

The following is written by PFM staff member, Brooke McClain, who serves with us in Guatemala. It shares the story of how our relationship came to be with Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua, Guatemala, where our staff, IGNITE interns, and mission teams have been able to serve and love on the patients. It has been an incredible journey!

It all began in late 2013, when PFM staff and IGNITE interns were out passing out New Testaments and sharing the gospel one afternoon in Antigua. As our group made their way to Antigua’s Central Park, they came upon a group of North Americans sitting with a group of young boys. All the boys were in wheelchairs and had some form of physical disability. As our group began to interact with the boys, PFM staff members began conversation with the North Americans. It was discovered that the young boys were live-in patients of a nearby hospital called Hermano Pedro Obras Sociales. The North Americans volunteered at the hospital. Our staff members learned how to contact the hospital and they all parted ways, but not before each one of the boys received a New Testament of his own. Not long after, those same staff members visited the hospital, met hospital administrative staff, and were given a tour.

It was during that tour that our staff members first saw the love between the hospital administrative staff and the hospital patients. The hospital staff that gave our staff the tour knew every patient’s name and interacted with almost every person that they came in contact with. Our staff learned that the hospital is entirely privately funded, primarily by the world-wide Catholic church. At that time there were about 275 live-in patients ranging from infants to elderly. Many have acute mental disabilities and most also have severe physical disabilities. Some are alert and able to have conversations, while others are not able to speak or even make eye contact. But one thing was absolutely obvious that day- the Lord had clearly opened up the door for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a place that desperately needed Him.

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We began volunteering shortly after that initial visit. At first we went about once a month. We always came willing to serve in whatever way was needed at the moment we arrived. Sometimes we fed the patients a meal. Sometimes we helped fold laundry. Sometimes we found ourselves simply holding onto a little hand for an hour, whispering, singing, and praying. In the beginning, the hospital staff was very cautious with our staff and interns. We were not allowed to take pictures at any time, nor were we allowed to hold the children.

But God.

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Pastor Roger Gales of Heritage Christian Fellowship praying with a patient during a short term mission trip

Often when serving at a place like the hospital, it is easy to doubt if the effort you are making is worth it. It can be easy to become discouraged because the need is so great and there are no answers to why the situations you encounter are real. The solution is to fix your eyes on Jesus and walk in faith, believing that He is Sovereign and that His Spirit is at work. Over time we truly believe the Lord opened the hearts of the hospital staff, and one day one of the nurses allowed one of our interns to hold one of the children. What an incredible blessing!

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As time went on, we began to volunteer once a week. One day, we arrived for what we thought would be a normal tour with a mission team serving with PFM. After making our way to the volunteer office, the administrative staff asked us to participate in a special Christmas activity. What a joy it was to see the patients playing carnival type games, painting, and singing and dancing along to music blaring from a huge speaker. That activity opened up the door for us to begin serving in an even greater capacity. Shortly after that activity, we were asked to be a part of taking a group of patients out to Central Park, the very place where the initial connection was made.

The day for the walk to the park came and we arrived at the hospital with the mission team serving with us at the time. We gathered all the patients who were scheduled to go with us and paired off – each member of our group with one patient. What an adventure it was to push the patients in their wheelchairs across the cobblestone streets of Antigua. After walking the few blocks from the hospital to the park, we were able to ‘dar la vuelta’ or walk them around in circles over and over again. We even had a few races down the long stretches of the park. What joy and laughter could be heard that day from both our group as well as the patients!

Later that year, hospital administrative staff asked our staff if they could hold a special event on our property, the PFM Center we rent here in Antigua. That event turned out to be five separate events where groups of patients and hospital staff as well as other volunteers came to the property- a different group of patients for five different days. The patients were wheeled the ten blocks or so from the hospital to the PFM Center and participated in special activities throughout the day including interactive songs and games by our IGNITE interns who were serving at the time, lunch, a tour of the property, and even a few rare moments where they were able to spread out on the luscious, green grass that covers the property for a time of rest. The memories made during those five days are priceless. For months afterward, our staff would get asked by patients, “When can we come to your house again?”

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Patients arriving at our PFM Center in Antigua, Guatemala

Now, close to two and a half years after that initial meeting in the park, God continues to open doors for PFM staff and interns to serve at the hospital. We are called upon to serve in various ways from shooting video and taking pictures to helping with special activities. Our staff members, interns, and mission team members have formed deep bonds with the patients, and friendships with the hospital staff. Recently, we found out one of our most treasured friends passed away. The pain of losing those you love is never easy to walk through. However, we thank God for giving us the opportunity to love these precious souls deeply.

Please pray for God’s continued favor upon this ministry. Please pray that as we serve Jesus in this place He will be glorified, hearts will be changed, and His Name will be made known. Please pray for the hospital staff to come into a saving relationship with Jesus. Pray for future ministry opportunities with the hospital and for God to continue to open doors for PFM to serve Him there.

‘Til the Whole World Hears